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Yi Yang Chai, architect from Malaysia won the second stage of the Future Now category in this year's edition of the Tubadzin Awards. He answered several questions about the competition, his vision of architecture and what inspired him to create a project that allowed him to win the main FutureNow!

Once again, the student won the main prize in the FutureNow category. In your opinion what can be the main factor that makes students/young architects understand the challenges of the future to architecture so well?

– Personally, I believe the key factor which leads the current student / young architects to understand the future challenges in architecture lies within a sharp observation and an open mind. In the belief that architecture is fundamentally anchored to create a beautiful solution addressing a seemingly complex issue, to anticipate any challenge of the future requires not only a creative imagination, but also an explicit perception towards the context in various scales.

You are at the beginning of your career in architecture, is this your first big award? In what other architectural competitions have you participated lately?

– I have participated and won a few awards or competitions in the recent years, like Fentress Global Challenge, FuturArc Prize, PAM Student Award and AYDA Young Designer Award. However, the is the first Europe-based international competition that I won, which is a milestone to me.

How did you find the information about competition, and how often do you adress the problems of emerging changes in your projects?

– I only came to learn about this competition this year through an architectural competition website. The future-oriented and versatile accent of the competition which opened to variety range of projects has intrigued me.

In your project you have raised the issue of revitalization of historical (postcolonial) urban tissue with a modern approach to design. Why such an idea for a project, especially the use of light as the main element of revitalization?

– The initial idea reacts to the issue of deep and dim layout of those historical shophouses, which caused their interior spaces became irrelevant for the purposes nowadays, yet their imagebility and appearance remain significant to the identity of the place. Hence, the tends to explore the „poetic” qualities of light and shadow between these spaces through the choreograph of a journey within.

What is the thing contemporary architecture misses the most, according to you?

– The contemporary architecture responds to functionality and efficiency most of the time, but lacks of patience. Sometimes, they missed out the emotional dimension and narrative that one architecture could evoke. To me, finding an equilibrium between function and fiction is the lifelong lesson as an architectural designer.

What is your biggest inspiration in the field of architecture? Architectural heritage, famous architect or maybe a building/building complex?

– I think my interests in architecture shifted timely. Thinking about my journey, I realize that the most breathtaking work that always inspire me in different phase is the Sagrada Familia designed by Antonio Gaudí. It is a timeless craft and priceless art.

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